Monday, September 9, 2013

Le Couvent, Apt

There is nothing like staying in a bed and breakfast inn to break the rhythms of a busy life.  
  So I was especially pleased to have an excuse to reserve Le Couvent when we went to the antiquarian book festival last weekend.

  What I didn't know was that Le Couvent Chambres d'hôtes   was going to be 19 kilometers away from our festival over a winding road that skipped over the hill into the Luberon valley below.   But alas, all the hotels were taken nearby the town... so I chose this one that was rated high on Trip Advisor. 

 The first glance of Le Couvent in Apt was a bit dispiriting as the garden and entry need a bit of a tidy-up.... but I kept reminding myself that the price for our room was a slim 98 euros and it was only for one night. 

 Laurent was cheerful and easy going and hopped up the two long staircases ( we carried the cases) with us without even checking our reservation... leading us into vast rooms, a bedroom, anti-chamber and large bathroom.   After a shower and a change of clothes we were feeling better about the place..... 

third bed in antechamber

Peeking into the large bath and shower room

I enjoyed both the tub and the shower

but then it was back over the hill to the festival and no time to look around .

From the second floor balcony

But a good night's sleep makes a difference.  The next day we were refreshed having had a good bed , a spacious room , a bubble bath (for me) and a shower for Monsieur (with a shower head the size of a dinner plate) and we were ready for breakfast.  

I was curious to see what I could find out about the place. 

 I learned from Laurent that he and his wife were responsible for renovating  Le Couvent.  And it was established on the site of an ancient monastery (1600s) not a convent.     After the revolution, the monastery was abandoned, taken over by the state,  sold to some Germans (who couldn't get the proper permissions to rebuild) and then left to fall to ruins.   

 The present owners, Laurent and his lovely wife,  bought the building in the state one sees in the above photo!  They spent five years on the structural work... and another seven years to get the place running. 

  Such a big, old place takes endless work ( and deep pockets) to keep it spiffy so I quickly grew appreciative of its quirkiness, its odd corners, ancient smells and the romantic echoes that only a very old building can display.   

I think what made me a true devotee though, was the breakfast..... served in a welcoming "salle a manger". ....being served with sacred music playing softly in the background.  Such sonorous sounds seemed fitting for the Sunday "breaking of fast" in a former house of God. 

 For those who eat grains there were fresh baguettes, croissants, pain aux raisins, pain chocolates, country breads .... all served with four or five kinds of home-made jams and jellies.

  There is a "red berry" juice and an orange juice, a myriad of teas and of course, coffees. 

  But for those of us that eat "non-gluten", there was also cheese, excellent yoghurt and fresh fruit.  I was not disappointed even though I had brought along my "squirrel food" ( nuts, seeds, and berries) just in case.

The server was just about to add more cheese under the dome.  On the right on the table are pictures taken during the reconstruction.

 It was really an exceptional hotel breakfast.  The  dining room was a bustle with guests and Laurent's busy wife who never stopped re-filling food trays and turning tables both inside and outside on the terrace. 

   It is a popular place.  I think I was disappointed on first glance after seeing the pictures on the site which show the inn in a glamorous light.  In those photos the grass and plantings are pristine , the beds look sultry with all their hangings.   Still the quality price is right for this guest house and the essentials like cleanliness, comfort, and friendliness, even wifi are there.  

I would have loved to linger and spend the day in Apt at Le Couvent and surrounds but Monsieur promised we could come back another time and "just be on holiday".  Now I'll have to hold him to that.  


  1. How lovely! I do so like to read about and see your places you visit, also your own back yard. Keep it up. I do love France.

    Love, Iris

  2. I love the Luberon.